Could a Checklist Save Your Child-Athlete's Life?

Jan 30, 2014

Last year, state legislators passed a bill requiring the Secondary School Activities Commission to draft rules aimed at preventing youth concussions. The legislation came as the national spotlight was shed on long term head injuries NFL players were suffering.

In West Virginia a 17-year-old football standout from South Harrison High School died after collapsing on the sidelines. The running back was unable to come out of a medically induced coma while undergoing surgery to remove a blood cot from his brain.  

Whether it’s a concussion, a broken bone, or heart attack one program is meant to better prepare medical professionals before the big game begins.

High schools across southern West Virginia tested what’s called the Friday Night Medical Timeout during the 2013 football season. 

Medical professionals in Beckley conduct a 'medical timeout' before a football game.
Credit www.medicaltimeout.com

"We’re playing game where obviously there can be injuries there can even be catastrophic injuries and we owe it to our athletes to be on top of our game," athletic trainer at Princeton high school Keith Bowling said.

Princeton High school was one of several high schools across Southern West Virginia to use what’s called the Friday Night Medical Timeout. It’s a kit that basically includes a checklist and a video.

The idea is to "maximize the time and minimize the chaos" by bringing health care support staff for both teams together before the game to discuss things like equipment location, hand signals, ambulance location and more.

Dr. Jim Kyle is the EMS Director of Region one and creator of the Medical Timeout.

"Is there a backboard on the sidelines if you have a downed athlete that needs to be placed on the backboard and transported," Kyle said. "If a concussion occurs and there is a brief loss of consciousness how do you remove the facemask to make sure that you can observe the athlete closely and prepare for an airway if needed."

Keith Bowling says preparation and anticipation of the ‘what ifs’ is important for health officials to understand early. Bowling says the program was a helpful addition to game preps at Princeton.

"When an athlete goes down on the field we can’t be standing around at that point and time trying to figure out how we’re going to take care of them or what are we going to do," Bowling said.

The Friday Night Medical Timeout is a product of The Kyle Group that will be available for purchase in February.